Archive 81 (Netflix)
Fans of analog horror should check out this new Netflix series, which was shot in and around Pittsburgh over the pandemic. The eight-episode arc follows a video archivist (Mamoudou Athie) who, while restoring a collection of damaged tapes from 1994, becomes obsessed with the documentarian behind them. The series employs a mix of conventional and found footage filmmaking, and ups the creep factor with evocative music and visual effects.
After finishing Archive 81, you might as well stay on Netflix and watch (or rewatch, for many of us) the David Fincher-produced series about the early days of profiling serial killers. The series was cut short, but still managed to make an impression with some stand-out performances (see Cameron Britton as the real-life Co-Ed Killer, Ed Kemper) and moody backdrop courtesy of various Pittsburgh locations.
American Rust (Showtime)
What is it about Pittsburgh that attracts such gloomy projects? Whatever it is, it led to American Rust, a crime drama about a family in a Pennsylvania town, being filmed here. The show premiered on Showtime last year, boasts a stellar cast, including Jeff Daniels and Maura Tierney, and has been compared to the similarly themed, award-winning Mare of Easttown. While it has received middling reviews, it’s still worth hitting play to see how it handles the age-old story of murder in a small community.
Theo & the Professor (Amazon, YouTube)
This horror at least comes with a dash of humor. Made by and starring local filmmakers Lance Parkin and Matt Schultz, this indie web series offers a play on the cult supernatural noir series Kolchak: The Night Stalker, with the two lead characters investigating cases of the paranormal. Despite its small budget and limited resources, the show boasts some impressive production values, especially in the areas of acting, writing, and special effects.
Actor Sandra Oh graced Pittsburgh with her presence when she came to the city to film The Chair, a comedy-drama about higher education. Shot at Chatham University and Washington & Jefferson College, the series — which premiered in August 2021 — stars Oh as Ji-Yoon Kim, the first woman of color to chair the English department at a fictional university. Created by and starring women, the show has received praise for its smart, absurdly funny treatment of issues that have long plagued supposedly progressive academia, with outlets like The Atlantic calling it Netflix’s “best drama in years.”